San Diego, CA

A Wellness Weekend in San Diego

Amber Gibson

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There are few places in the country as reliable for warm, sunny weather and beautiful beaches as San Diego. The country's eighth largest city has long been popular for family attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Legoland and SeaWorld, plus great fish tacos, but in the last few years this relaxed, Southern California destination has become a lot more sophisticated and it's the ideal destination for a weekend of wellness.

Enjoy a health-conscious day of outdoor shopping at One Paseo in Del Mar while sipping a fresh juice or smoothie from Parakeet Juicery. Many of the retailers here have a focus on wellness, art and active lifestyles including home décor and flora at Pigment, outdoorsy menswear at Roark and Faherty, and clean beauty and skincare at Shop Good. Stop for sustainable seafood poke bowls at Sweetfin – there are even deliciouos plant-based options like the sweet potato ponzu lime bowl with edamame and forbidden black rice.

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Alchemē is another One Paseo gem – a blend of naturopathic medicine, including vitamin injections and IV therapy, with advanced aesthetic treatments like PRP microneedling, skin tightening and photo facials. The playful periodic table inspired menu on the wall includes everything from celebrity skin IVs to sleepyhead and high vibrations vitamin shots.

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Saffron & Sage is another paradigm of holistic health in Little Italy, with similar IV therapies, along with yoga, acupuncture, fire cupping and sound therapy, drawing wisdom from Traditional Chinese Medicine an Ayurveda. Their loving approach to wellness is welcoming and compassionate, creating a serene sanctuary for healing. In just a few years, they've built a strong health-conscious community of locals and during the pandemic, they began selling herbal teas, essential oils and their own skincare line online.

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The beauty of San Diego is how much there is to do outdoors year-round, by land, sea and air. There are so many green spaces and hiking and biking trails at Balboa Park and Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve. At Torrey Pines Gliderport, you can soar like a bird during a tandem paragliding flight, a magical experience for all ages and physical abilities. For a tour by water, San Diego Sailing Tours has a sharp fleet of luxury yachts available for private charters and regular tours, including wildlife tours of San Diego and Point Loma during the day and a romantic sunset sail each evening.

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Of course, you can't leave San Diego without trying a fish taco, and the grilled or fried fish tacos at Galaxy Taco in La Jolla are among the best in the city, served on fresh blue corn tortillas made with landrace corn from Oaxaca. The octopus tostada is another hit, with mountains of grilled octopus and avocado piled atop a crispy blue corn tortilla and dressed with burnt orange-habanero salsa. Another favorite spot for seafood is Ironside Fish & Oyster in Little Italy. Working directly with local fishermen, who are recognized by name on the menu, Ironside serves the freshest daily catch including live uni, bigeye tuna, yellowtail, rockfish, sheephead and rock crab. Start with a few briny bites from the raw bar before cutting into octopus a la plancha and a juicy tuna fillet, still ruby red on the inside, served with flavorful accompaniments like za'atar pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and cannellini bean leek purée.

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Sometimes wellness means treating yourself, and there's no better place to dress up and celebrate accomplishments, special occasions and the joy of being alive than Addison, San Diego's only Michelin-starred restaurant. During the pandemic, they have moved dining outdoors on the terrace overlooking the impeccable gardens and golf course.

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From the perfectly starched white tablecloths and synchronized service to the thoughtful wine pairings, every element of dinner is world-class. Refreshing white asparagus ice cream garnished with olive oil and champagne foam is followed by delicate chawanmushi topped with succulent sea urchin and yakitori barbecued pigeon hearts. After a final flourish of bite-sized desserts to conclude the 10-course tasting menu, you'll be pleasantly stuffed. Addison, led by Chef William Bradley, celebrates 15 years this autumn, setting the standard for luxurious fine dining in Southern California.

Where To Stay

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Fairmont Grand Del Mar is the kind of opulent resort you could swan about and never leave, a sprawling Mediterranean estate with a mix of Spanish, Venetian, Moroccan and Portuguese architecture. It's only a six minute stroll from Addison, and with a championship golf course, tennis and pickleball courts, lush gardens and magnificent Center For Wellbeing, everything you need for a life of leisure is at your fingertips. A woodsy blend of rosemary, cedar, sage, juniper and geranium essential oils increases circulation during an immune boosting massage, and leaves you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Keep your bathrobe on all day when you step outside your signature poolside king room and lounge beside the glamorous courtyard pool, soaking up the sun.

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Just a few miles away, Estancia La Jolla is another chic hacienda-style hotel with lush desert gardens and a lively pool scene within walking distance from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. There are regular live musical performances in the evenings and complimentary morning yoga classes each weekend on the lawn.

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Amber Gibson specializes in luxury travel, food, wine and wellness. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Departures, Hemispheres, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Fodor's, NPR, NBC and more. Champagne, dark chocolate and gelato are her biggest weaknesses.

Los Angeles, CA
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